Technical Articles

Copper Strap vs. Copper Braid in Amateur Radio Grounding

Tinned-copper braid has been around for a long, long time. It’s been used in many grounding applications because of its flexibility and ease of soldering. It’s great for grounding radio chassis to radio chassis (DXE-TCB05-RT01) or from your equipment to a single-point ground. Good stuff. (DXE-TCB-050)

Copper strap is better than wire because it reduces RF skin effect with the very large surface area it presents.

There is a problem with braid: it retains water. The fact that it will hold water causes corrosion to the tinning material and, eventually, the copper. This may not be a problem in New Mexico but it is in many parts of the US and the World. Tinned-copper corrosion is evident when the braid begins to turn green.

That’s where copper strap comes in! For grounding connections that go outside the building and into the weather, the better choice is copper strap. Copper strap (GCL-1220-025) dries quickly, its oxidation actually protects the strap, and it will far outlast copper braid when used for the same outdoor application. Copper strap also reduces RF skin-effect resistance over the use of wire.

So, which is best? Both! Use convenient and flexible braid in the shack to accomplish your equipment grounding needs. Then transition to copper strap to go outside the shack and into the weather.

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